Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Signing Albert Pujols @ 10 yrs/$300 million = Suicide: Baseball Style

Wednesday February 15, 2011

Signing Albert Pujols to a $30 million per year contract
would be franchise suicide for the St Louis Cardinals.

Albert Pujols vs San Diego Padres

If the the St Louis Cardinals give in to Pujols (and many the fans and members of the media) demands for $30 million and 10 seasons, they will be effectively committing franchise suicide.

Why? Let me enumerate:
#1 - Even though he is Pujols, the best player in baseball, he is still human. His performance WILL decline. Possibly every year from this point forward, but certainly dramatically before a 10 year contract even reaches its half way point.

Will he be worth even 10 million per season when he is hitting 50-60 points lower and less than half the home runs at ages 37- 42? That was pretty close to the average drop from the peak performance ages of 26-28 prior to the steroid era.Yes .280-.290 with 15-20 hrs is still valuable, but 6 years of that production for $30 million per season? That would cripple even the Yankees.

#2 - Since the advent of free agency, no team has won the world series while having one player make 15% or more or its payroll. No team has MADE it to the World Series with one player making 20% or more of its payroll.

The Cardinals largest payroll ever was $99 million in 2008 and it was $94 million in 2010. At a payroll equaling their largest in franchise history, Pujols contract would account for over 30% per season. Even if they increased payrol by an astonishing 25% from 2010 levels to $117.5 million, Pujols salary would make account for 25.5% of the payroll with Halliday making up an additional 14.5%. So even with a 25% bump in total payroll, that is 40% in TWO players.

That is simply untenable. It would retard their ability to sign enough talent (internal - arbitration eligible, and external - free agents) to make them competitive AND cripple their ability to sign top prospects in the draft & international free agency. The Cardinals simply would not have the payroll flexibility to go out and get free agents to fill holes, sign their other good players to long term deals or build their farm system through the draft & international free agent signings.

#3 - Players get hurt. Even Albert Pujols gets hurt. See 2006 and 2008. As they get older, players get hurt more often.

When you are paying one player 20-30% of your total payroll you cannot afford for them to get hurt. You simply cannot afford to keep a good backup on the roster, so some replacement level schmuck will be taking the field if your superstar is out with an injury.

Holliday's $17 million contract was at the fringes of what a team like St Louis can afford and still stay competitive. If they sign Pujols to a $30 million per year contract regardless of length, they will be committing $47 million per season to 2 players. Nearly 50% of total payroll at 2010 levels or 40% IF they bump total payroll up by 25%. And that is a HUGE IF..

As it is the Cardinals have $33 million committed to those two in 2011. Another $49+ million is committed to 7 members of the 12 man pitching staff in 2011. $82 million overall for 9 players out of a projected $104 million payroll in 2011..

As it is they have no room for error. No room for injuries. No room for an off year. Everyone must compete at their peak and stay healthy for the Cardinals to have any hope of competing in the NL Central.

In 2012 the Cardinals currently have $63.3 committed to 7 players. Add Pujols is at $30 million and  they are over their 2010 payroll before putting another player on the field.

At a $100 million payroll in 2012, Cardinals would only have about $6.67 million to spend on 17 players. That is just slightly less than the current major league minimum. 17*$410k = $6.970 million

Even IF they bump the payroll 25%, they still would only have $23.67 million to sign 17 players. Hardly a way to build a powerhouse club worthy of having an Albert Pujols on it.


  1. Larry Faria in Ocean Beach said:

    All great points. The only items you didn't explore are 1. Pujols had to know the Card's couldn't pay that much and still put a competitive team around him, so did he high-ball his demand to ease his way out of St. Louis, and 2. since the Cards were in the same situation as the Padres despite having more resources, it it possible for any team outside of the top 8 or so big market teams to afford even a home-grown superstar?

    My guess is 1. without LaRussa, he might as well find a better hitting ballpark for his later years, like Wrigley or Comiskey, and 2. no.

  2. ThePadFather2/22/2011 2:11 PM

    You were a little off on the % of payroll for a single player. The Giants overcame Zito's 18.5 mil as part of their season ending $111 million payroll to win the WS. Thats 16.6%. But then they were the only team in 40 years with one player over 15% according to Peter Gammons. Great pitching paid off for them. No way can the Cards afford 25+% for Pujols & nearly 50% for him and Holliday and still win. Of course the 21 mil they offered him is a joke too. No way is he worth less than Teixeira & Howard. Can you imagine Pujols hitting in Fenway or Wrigley? He'd have 100 XBH with 50 HR.

    Larry, the only way they can afford them is to lock them up early before they hit FA. Otherwise, forget it.

  3. Larry Faria in Ocean Beach said:

    Yes, I CAN see Pujols hitting in Wrigley - that's why I wondered if he was easing his way out of town. He high-balled, the Cards low-balled to see if he'd move down, and apparently he didn't budge. I think he'll take Howard $$ to play where he can put up the kind of numbers you mentioned.

  4. Larry Faria in Ocean Beach said:

    I thought Fenway was far-fetched after the Sox got Adrian, but DH Ortiz is in the last year of his contract, will turn 35 this year, and like Adrian is a LH power hitter. Pujols and Adrian hitting righty-lefty back-to-back would be scary.

    BTW, you can't rule out playing in "New" Yankee Stadium either. The Yanks have Posada as DH, and he'll be 40 in August, is on the last year of his contract, and hit .248 last year. With the Red Sox and Yankees in the bidding, the Cubs might get priced out.

    This is the sort of alignment of the stars that makes me suspect Albert had no intention of staying in St. Louis.